As it gears up for its summer debut, Al Jazeera is looking to hire as many as 800 American journalists and media professionals for cable news venture Al Jazeera America.
Crain’s Chicago Business reports that Al Jazeera is meeting with news organizations and advertisers in Chicago in anticipation of a July or August launch date.
An Al Jazeera spokesman claimed that his new 24-hour news network would feature the perspective of “average Americans,” and he intended to air “long-form,” documentary-style reports.
“It’s really about the real people in the mainstream with heavy investigative journalism,” said Ehab Al Shihabi, executive director of international operations. The new network will be “covering domestic news from a global perspective and covering global news in a local way,” he promised.
Al Shihabi also made the claim that his new network would be guided by “unbiased” reporting.
Noting that not everyone is “happy with the landscape” of today’s news coverage in the USA, Al Shihabi said, “A lot of consumers are demanding in-depth journalism, and this is why we are here.”
Al Jazeera America will be based in Washington, D.C. but will also have offices in New York, Dallas, Detroit, and Seattle.
With a Chicago connection, Al Jazeera has announced plans to create an internship with Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Medill already offers such a program in Doha, the Qatari capital, which graduated its fist class last year.
A Medill professor claimed that Al Jazeera America is all about “quality.”
Medill professor Owen Youngman said his experience is that Al Jazeera is offering “quality” reporting. Medill professors in Doha “are doing their work unhindered by the Qatari government,” Mr. Youngman said. “We feel like we’re training journalists that will be making a difference in the coverage of that region.”
Al Jazeera America got its foothold on American cable when environmental guru Al Gore sold his struggling Current TV network to Qatari news service. Gore realized a personal windfall possibly totaling $8 million.
Almost as soon as the sale of Current TV was announced, many of the network’s big “stars” resigned. Former Governors turned talk show hosts Jennifer Granholm and Eliot Spitzer both refused to renew contracts after the sale.